“I think I do,” Wingate replied. “Thank you.”
Andrew Slate, a very personable man in his spring clothes of grey tweed, took up his hat and prepared to depart. Half-past twelve had just struck by Wingate’s clock, and the two men had been together since ten.
“You’re a wonderful person, Wingate,” Slate said, with a note of genuine admiration in his tone. “I don’t believe there’s another man breathing who would have had the courage to plan a coup like this.”
Wingate shrugged his shoulders.
“The men who dig deep into life,” he replied, as he shook hands, “are the men who take risks. I was never meant to be one of those who scratch about on the surface.”
A note was slipped into his letter box as he let Slate out. He noticed the coronet on the envelope and opened it eagerly. A glance at the signature brought him disappointment. He read it slowly, with a hard smile upon his lips:
My dear Mr. Wingate,
I am writing to express to you my sincere and heartfelt regret for last night’s unfortunate incident. I can do no more nor any less than to confess in plain words that I was drunk. It is a humiliating confession, but it happens to be the truth. Will you accept this apology in the spirit in which it is tendered, and wipe out the whole incident from your memory? I venture to hope and believe that you are sportsman enough to accede to my request.
Wingate was conscious of a feeling of disappointment as he threw the note upon the table. Open warfare was, after all, so much better. An amende so complete left him with no alternative save acquiescence. Even while he was coming to this somewhat unwelcome decision, the telephone bell rang. He took off the receiver and was instantly galvanised into attention. It was Josephine speaking.
“Is that Mr. Wingate?” she asked.
“It is,” he admitted. “Good morning—Josephine!”
“Quite right,” she answered composedly. “That is how I like to have you call me. I am speaking for my husband. He is here by my side at the present moment.”
“The mischief he is!” Wingate said. “Well?”
“My husband has desired me to intercede with you,” Josephine continued, “to beg your acceptance of the apology which he has sent you this morning.”
“No further word need be spoken upon the subject,” Wingate replied. “Your husband has explained that he was drunk and has tendered his apology. I accept it.”
There was a brief pause. Josephine was obviously repeating Wingate’s decision to her husband. Then she spoke again.
“My husband desires me to thank you,” she said. “He desires me to hope that you will continue to visit at the house, and that you will not allow anything he may have said to interfere between our friendship.”